Little Miss Sunshine's second life with her one love
Looking forward ... Patricia and Russell Scheetz. Photo: Janie Barrett
By Alicia Wood The Brisbane Times, Australia
THE next time Patricia Scheetz walks down the aisle, guests will focus on her vibrant red wedding dress, not her illness.
Mrs Scheetz and her husband Russell are looking forward to renewing their vows next year in Port Douglas.
At their original wedding ceremony three years ago, she was seriously ill and struggled through. ''I nearly missed the entire wedding the first time around; they kept having to rehydrate me,'' she said.
Known as ''Little Miss Sunshine'' to her friends, Mrs Scheetz, 28, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was a toddler.
She has no family history of the disease, which caused kidney failure 18 months ago. Her only hope was kidney and pancreas transplants. Last month, she was lucky enough to find compatible donors and had the transplants at Westmead Hospital. Very quickly, she noticed her body improving.
''After the operation I felt upbeat,'' she said. ''I thought I would feel like I was in the wars. But I was capable of ringing Russell. I just felt better within myself.''
It was a phone call Russell will never forget. ''I almost fell over,'' he said. ''I thought it was one of the nurses calling from her phone.''
Mrs Scheetz is one of the faces of Transplant Australia's ''Journey of Hope'' campaign, aimed at encouraging people to discuss organ donation, and register as donors. During her illness she embarked on a social media campaign to encourage people to sign the donor register.
Her doctor, Jeremy Chapman, director of renal medicine at Westmead Hospital, said she was one of the lucky ones.
''Every year, about 70 people in Australia have end-stage kidney failure from type 1 diabetes, 45 to 50 are suitable for a transplant and, of those, we do about 45,'' Dr Chapman said.
For years, Mrs Scheetz could barely feel her feet, which had turned purplish because of poor circulation. Now she is regaining the feeling.
Her illness made her legally blind, but her eyesight will now stop deteriorating, although she won't fully regain her sight.
With recovery, she said, she looked forward to the freedom of ''not being tied to a machine''.
''For 27 years I have been injecting myself four times a day, monitoring my sugar intake, and for 18 months since my kidney failure I had dialysis four times a week,'' she said.
''There was no way I could hold down a job, and now I won't have to think about any of that.''
She wants to work with Transplant Australia in marketing. She is also looking forward to a summer without restrictions on how much liquid she can drink.
''I just want to drink a long, cold glass on a hot summer's day. I'm so excited about the simple little things like that.''
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
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In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
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Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
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